By the end of November we should know a little bit more about where Kell Brook’s (36-1, 25 KOs) future lies. This comes after Lindsey Tucker, the IBF chairman, recently told The Ring Magazine that the organisation is set to order Brook to begin negotiations with his mandatory challenger Errol Spence Jr. on the 26th October.
Once the IBF orders the title defence Brook and Spence will have 30 days to negotiate the bout before it goes to purse bids. If “The Special One” doesn’t take the fight with Spence his time campaigning at welterweight will surely be over, with 154 likely to be where his future lies. Taking this into account I’ve decided to look at who could be up next for Brook.
Errol Spence (21-0, 18KOs)
Though it currently seems unlikely, Brook could decide to defend his belt at 147 and cement his name as the top fighter in the division. Although he has admitted he struggles to make the weight, the chance to take on arguably the hottest prospect in boxing could be enough to lure Brook back down. After stepping up to fight GGG it is unquestionable that Brook wants to take on the best and many spectators see Spence as a future P4P king, thus a chance to put on an impressive display against the undefeated youngster might appeal to Kell’s competitive side.
There is also the added bonus that by taking Spence on as a mandatory Brook will be entitled to a 75/25 purse split, which could therefore mean that the Spence fight actually works out as one of the most lucrative option.
However, there are several reasons why this fight seems unlikely. Firstly the aforementioned struggle to drop back down to welterweight may mean that Brook believes he couldn’t produce his best performances at 147 anymore.
Then secondly, and probably more importantly, this is a high-risk fight. Whilst Spence is well known in the boxing fraternity, he is relatively unknown outside the hard-core fans and would be unrecognisable to many casuals. This means that Brook is unlikely to get a payday anywhere near what he received for GGG, whilst due to The Truth’s undoubted ability a loss is also a very distinct possibility. Would Brook risk a second successive loss against a relative unknown? Personally I don’t think he will, especially when looking at his other options.
Amir Khan (31-4, 19KOs)
The Khan-Brook showdown has been muted for years now and yet we seem to be no closer to this British Mega-fight. However, what goes in the favour of this fight is that both are coming off recent losses and may see this as the last chance to cash in on the biggest fight for both of them.
Another loss for either—especially another damaging KO loss for Khan—could push them into the shadows and away from the upper echelons of the sport. Thus both must be becoming more and more tempted to make this fight happen and take home that career high payday.
Another favourable factor of this fight is the fact that following each other’s recent losses both may have seen weaknesses in each other’s game, which they feel they could expose—although I don’t see Khan having a comparable skillset to GGG.
However, despite the obvious easy sell, for some reason I just don’t see it being made. Firstly, if it didn’t happen a year or so ago when this fight was at its most marketable and profitable—when both fighters were on a winning streak and campaigning at welterweight—is it really more likely to happen now? Several issues that stopped it being made then also still remain today: Khan still seems obsessed with Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao; and would purse negotiations really be any easier? I’d love to be proven wrong but I just don’t think it’ll happen.
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Saul Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs)
The Alvarez fight gives Brook the chance to become a two-weight world champion and seemed to be the fight “Ezekiel” was eyeing in the initial aftermath of his defeat to GGG.
Despite the loss against Golovkin, Kell enhanced his reputation in the recent bout and his stock has definitely since grown in the States. Taking this into account, Brook could viably be the biggest payday for Canelo outside GGG and thus may tempt the Mexican. Eddie Hearn, Brook’s promoter, has also stated it is the natural next fight for his boxer and has also mentioned HBO’s interest in the fight.
A chance to further enhance his name is the US, become a two weight world champion, and take part in what would likely be a PPV fight both sides of the Atlantic might well put this fight at the top of Brook’s wish list. However, despite Brook’s wishes the decision to make this fight is purely down to Alvarez and Golden Boy Promotions. With Canelo stating after his recent victory over Liam Smith his intention is to move up to middleweight and take on the Golovkin (yes I don’t think it will happen either, but I do think he’ll move up in weight class due to weight issues) it looks like this fight probably won’t materialise.
Miguel Cotto (40-5, 33KOs)
A Miguel Cotto fight is an interesting one. Outside Canelo the Puerto Rican is the biggest name in the light-middleweight division and with Brook’s next fight most likely to be at 154 it could be the natural choice.
In favour of this fight is the fact that both fighters have exciting crowd-pleasing styles and when combined with Cotto being a well-known name on these shores this fight would likely do very well in the UK from a PPV point of view.
It could also be argued that Cotto is a fighter on the slide, and when you add that to the fact that he will be 36 later this month, Matchroom and Brook may see this as a golden opportunity to get a big name on the Special One’s resume.
However, there is one key consideration Brook would need to make before taking this fight. Does he really want to get in the ring with one of boxing’s best-left hookers after having surgery on his right eye? Then even if Kell does decide he wants to take that risk and make the fight it may not be up to him: Cotto’s recent inactivity–he hasn’t fought for nearly a year–might be an indication that the Puerto Rican legend is looking to hang up his gloves, thus denying us this potentially electric showdown.
Having already raised the point that Brook will be returning from eye surgery, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if he chose to ease himself back into the sport with a “tune-up fight.” If Kell does decide to move to light-middleweight an easier fight might also allow him to become accustomed to the division.
If Brook does go down the tune-up route Liam Smith could be a possible candidate. Beefy has become more recognisable in the UK following his recent fight with Canelo, meaning the fight would be a reasonably easy sell to the more casual fan. The two also sparred together in the build up to their recent fights, and thus may have spotted weaknesses in each other’s armoury making negotiations that little bit easier.
Brook could also look at making his way into a mandatory position, giving him time to adjust to the light-middleweight division before any world title attempt. Having held the IBF title at welterweight the organisation would probably be willing to sanction fights between Brook and some of the fighters at the top of their rankings.
Names like Cedric Vitu, Takayuki Hosokawa and Marcelo Matano all feature in the top 5 of the IBF rankings and should cause little trouble to a boxer of Brook’s ability. Admittedly, these aforementioned names hardly get the pulse racing (although neither did Jo Jo Dan); however, a couple of quick wins over these types of fighters could put Brook straight back into world title contention, whilst also allowing him to ease back from injury.
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